BSG Recap: Someone To Watch Over Me

Sunday, March 1 by

Now this?  Is more like it.  Aaron Douglas,  Katee Sackhoff and Grace Park were all given chances to shine, and it goes without saying that they all were great. Given the reveal at the end, some people might wonder if anybody might have said something to Kara at some point, but it’s not like she doesn’t have a history of acting out in public.

This was an episode that made me happy and sad at the same time.

Kara Thrace voices the previouslies, as she damn well deserves to:
•    The ship is falling apart, so they’ve enlisted Sixes and Eights to fix it up with Cylon Super Glue.
•    Ellen and Boomer escaped from Brother Cavil and (somehow) made their way to the Fleet, where Boomer was tossed in the Brig and Ellen caused buckets of trouble.
•    Back on Earth, which totally sucked,  Starbuck discovered her own corpse, and was none too happy.

We open with hands on a piano, playing a slow, stately tune as we montage back and forth between Starbuck giving the morning CAP briefing and Starbuck rehearsing giving the morning CAP briefing – in the shower, in her bunk, and at the bar. 

Here’s the deal: with Galactica essentially locked down for repairs, the Raptor pilots have been making six-day long runs looking for an inhabitable planet.  Solo runs, since the mutiny thinned out their ranks. And there are prizes!  First person to find a new home for Humanity and Cylonity wins … a tube of toothpaste?  WTF?   Perhaps Starbuck should increase the prize, because they’ve been doing this for weeks.  Everything is in stasis.

Except for Galactica.  Despite – or because of? –  the Cylon Super Glue, she just keeps getting worse.  Or so Galen Tyrol briefs Lee, Roslin , Adama and this week’s new Six, called Sonja.  In fact, Tyrol warns, throughout the episode we will experience intermittent power outages and random rattling of the ship.  So get ready!

When Tyrol is done, Lee turns to Sonja and congratulates her on being the rebel Cylon Basestar’s  representative to the brand-new Quorum, consisting of representatives from the ships, as opposed to the 12 Colonies.   So apparently, Lee’s plan for a more realistic government was fine with everybody.  Sonja thanks him, and says that the first order of business for the rebel Basestar is asking for the release of Sharon “Boomer” Valerii.

That gets Tyrol’s attention. So many many bad things on this series could be avoided if people like Galen Tyrol and Felix Gaeta were NOT in the room while the Adamas and Roslin discussed political business.   How about a simple “thanks, Chief, let us know when the Galactica is about to die from old age,” and dismissing him?

It also gets Adama’s attention.  He starts in with the “bitch shot me, twice,” but before he can work up a full head of steam, Sonja cuts him off.  She says that they don’t want Boomer to be free, oh no. Instead they want to try her for the crime of treason for siding with Cavil and starting the Cylon Civil War, resulting in thousands of Cylon deaths.  Well, Roslin thinks, why didn’t you say so? 

I could work up my own head of steam here by pointing out that a) what’s the point in having a voting system if the wrong vote could have you tried for treason?  and b) Caprica Six essentially caused the destruction of nearly all of humanity, and the humans are providing her with health care.  But I won’t, because I realize that this is the macguffin that is going to take us into the opening credits.

39,556 souls looking for a home.  Home. 

You know that weird non sequitur toothpaste prize we just saw Kara offer?  Apparently it’s going to be an item in the “Battlestar Prop” auction. What? The? Fuck?  All I can think is that Moore and Eick made a bet that they could somehow do an explicit product placement in a show set in outer space.  If so, they win.  We, however, lose.  

After the commercial, the Galactica is shaking, rattling and rolling all over. After a quick tour of various places in the ship shaking, we end up in Sickbay, where Sam is still in stasis.  He’s beeping regularly now, but he hasn’t actually, you know, woken up. Doc Cottle calls it the most bizarre readings he’s ever seen, and one of the random Eights wonders if Sam is just taking a long time to reboot.  Like the Fleet’s Foremost Authority on Brains installed the worst-ever bootleg copy of Windows Vista in him.  That idea is dismissed, and Cottle tells Kara that she’s on her own, and it’s to get on with her life. 

Which, for Kara Thrace, means going back to the bar.  And heckling the guy sitting at the piano trying to write a song.  The piano player never introduces himself to us, so I’m going to name him “Reginald Dwight.”  I know that the character’s name is “Slick,” but we all know that isn’t his real name, either, so I’m going to stick with “Reg,” because it amuses me.

Reg is all sensitive and artistic and shit, and Kara is all hard and cynical and stuff, and they hit it off immediately, but not in that way.  One of the good things about this episode is that Katee Sackhoff and Roark Critchlow (who plays Reg) are able to walk a fine line between obvious bonding and sexual attraction.  Which is good, considering all of the Oedipal shit that’s recently happened in this show.  In any event, Kara goads Reg into playing something beautiful instead of writing his song.  So he does.  And it is.

Haters of this plotline will get no sympathy from me whatsoever.  I grew up with a piano in the household, and a brother who played it beautifully, and one of the most enduring memories from my childhood is just sitting around and watching him play it.  Playing songs that he knew, or songs that he was learning, or songs that he was making up. 

Chief is hunched over a sander or welder or whatever and playing something noisy and sparky his own self and is having flashbacks to when he and Boomer were having their illicit relationship.  This was wayyyyyyy back in Season 1, and the reason it was an official secret was that she was his superior officer, and therefore it was against military regulations.  So innocent!  Oh, and Boomer also a Cylon sleeper agent.  Which turned out to be a huge problem when she started sabotaging the ship and eventually shot Adama. Luckily, she was subsequently killed by Cally in Season 2, and died in Chief’s arms.  So, as you can imagine, he still has some unresolved issues surrounding the whole thing.

Hey look!  It’s Hera!  Cutely drawing something.  And yet, still creepy.  Starbuck comes in, having been invited over by Helo.  The Helo / Starbuck friendship is one of the givens of this show.  They’ve both been loyal to each other throughout the series – he only turned on her during the Demetrius mutiny out of concern and immediately went back —  and so I’m going to make up this backstory for that friendship.  Karl Agathon and Kara Thrace became friends in Basic Training, then they became lovers. However, it turned out that they were terrible together as lovers, so they decided to remain friends, but with an extra special bond that they probably don’t even think about any more, much less discuss.   I didn’t say it was a good backstory.

In any event, when everybody thought that Kara was dead, they auctioned off her stuff as is customary, but Helo ended up buying most of it, and wanted to give it to her.  Ahhhhh. But the only thing that Kara wants from the box is a cassette of her dad’s music.  Dreilide Thrace – Live at the Helice Opera House.    Oh, that’s a good one! It used to be all over the wireless.  Not quite as classic as Foghat Live or Spiritualized Live at the Royal Albert Hall, but it still holds up. 

Oh, and Starbuck takes the pretty drawering of stars that Hera offers her.  Thanks Hera!  Now can you be a tad less creepy?  Maybe a good kidnapping might loosen you up!  Either that, or turn into Battlestar Galactica’s version of “The Ransom of Red Chief.” 

Chief Galen Tyrol is at the Brig.  He’s been in stasis for the past few weeks, marking the time by supervising the application of the Cylon Super Glue to the Galactica.  This entire time, he’s been resisting the temptation to make contact with Boomer.  It’s like he noticed that she’s joined Facebook, but doesn’t want to friend her too soon.  That said, the fact that she’s going to be tried and executed gives him an excuse!

They pick up the Brig phones, and at first, she’s confusing.  Apparently, the keeping of Humanity as pets on New Caprica was some kind of atonement for shooting Adama? And a way to forget and hate Chief?  Ooooohhhh kaaaay.  In any event, it didn’t work, because she still loves him.  And he still loves her.  So they touch through the mesh (which, if it’s a mesh, why do they need phones, exactly??), and WHOOOOSSSSSH!!! Chief is projected to a version of the life on Picon that they planned together. 

Except for the brief glimpse he got of life on Earth, back before it was nuked into suckitude, this is Chief’s first full immersion in how Cylons use projection to define their environments in their own minds.  He’s freaked out.  (I originally wrote “freaked up,” which I kinda like.)  He tells Boomer to stop with the projection already, and skedaddles.  You know, I know, and – especially – Boomer knows, that he’ll be back.

At the bar, Reg finishes playing something, and Kara claps.  “The critic returns,” he snides, but then instantly asks her what she thinks of his song now.  She likes it.

The Non-Coma Four of the Final Five (and we still haven’t seen what happens when all Five are together and conscious in the same place) are meeting, and Tyrol is arguing for their interference in the upcoming Trial of Sharon Valerii.  Ellen says “No.”  The Prime Directive clearly states that they can’t interfere. Also, Saul Tigh observes that they’re all in hell.  Thanks, drunky!

Back at the Brig, Tyrol has more questions for Boomer about Cylon projection; and in full-on flirt mode, she says that the house was something they planned during their relationship, and if Tyrol would like to go there again, all he has to do is ask.  He asks, WHOOSH!, and while touring the life that he never had – really never ever could have had, under any circumstances whatsoever – he finds out that their un-life also included an artistic girl.  This makes Galen Tyrol very happy.

Throughout all of this, the power has been fluctuating on and off, and it reminds me of me and Rox’s old apartment in Oakland, where we couldn’t run the washing machine and the portable heater at the same time without blowing a circuit.

We’re at the bar. Reg has got his composing papers strewn out all over the place, and announces that he has now finished his first movement.  Apparently Kara Thrace is quite the muse.  So it’s on to the second movement of Reg’s Bowel Symphony #2.  But Reg has a bit of the old writer’s block, so he starts doodling around with what he calls his “touchstone.”  Kara recognizes the piece and calls him on it. Reg says that she obviously knows a lot about music, she confesses that not only was her father a musician, he even taught her songs.  

In fact, Kara says, while flashing back to her childhood: “There was this one song that he taught me, it made me feel happy and sad all at the same time.”  Instead of guessing which song, which is what I would have done (“Tears of a Clown?”  “One?” “There is A Light That Never Goes Out?”), Reg just says: “The best ones do.”

After the commercia break, Kara is obviously dreaming.   She’s standing on an empty hangar deck, and the only thing she can see is a girl with her back to us – obviously l’il Kara – playing a piano.  Playing something beautiful.  We learn something about Kara Thrace right here.  We learn that she obviously doesn’t know shit about horror movies, because everybody knows that a little blond straight-haired girl alone in a wide-open area is NEVER a good sign.  I even know this, and the last horror movie I saw was Jaws.

So, run away, Kara, run away!!  Naturally, she can’t hear me, so she approaches the little girl and touches her on the shoulder.  The girl whirls around, and is replaced by scary, burnt-out dead Starbuck in the helmet. WAKE UP! Which Kara does, sweating.

So clearly, she needs a drink to calm her nerves, so she’s back at the bar, talking to Reg and saying “What am I?  A ghost?  A demon?”  A complet unknown. But Reg doesn’t have the answers; tells her that maybe she should ask Bernie, he’s the wordsmith. Or maybe he gives here the typical musician’s answer:  “Just because you don’t know your direction doesn’t mean you don’t have one.”  No direction home.

You know who has a direction?  Boomer.  And her direction is straight towards a firing squad.  Laura Roslin is executing the first step of Boomer’s execution by signing the extradition papers.  Tyrol begs, pleads, and cajoles Roslin, even asking for a“personal favor.” Really, Chief?  This snaps President Laura Roslin into place:  “Personal feelings are what Sharon Valerii preys upon.  You need to clear your head.” 

But she’s wrong: Tyrol’s head hasn’t been so clear since Boomer died in his arms.  If the other Dylons (tm Jacob at Television Without Pity) won’t intervene and the Humans won’t prevent it, then it’s up to him, Galen Tyrol, to rescue his love.  This, by the way, is fully and utterly written all over his frakking face right there in Roslin’s office, and in “normal” times, Adama would have been watching Tyrol like a hawk from the moment he stormed out, but Adama is at about 10% right now.

Kinda like Galactica herself, what with all of the power outages and everything.  Luckily, Tyrol’s way is illuminated by the light bulb that has gone off over his head, and so he creates the largest power outage yet and uses it to whack a random worker Eight with a wrench; and replace Boomer in the Brig with that Eight while the monitoring cameras are out.   Boomer is free aboard Galactica for the first time since the first season.  That can’t be good.

Back at the bar, Kara finds out that Reg left his family – just like her daddy did – and is outraged.  How could Reg do this?  Her own dad never wrote, he never called; he was just gone, leaving her with her abusive mother.  But she showed him: she stopped playing the piano.

Well now.  Those of you who thought that the missing Cylon, Daniel, was possibly Baltar, please report to airlock #4.  Those of you who thought it was Kara’s father, please report to the bar – the drinks are on the house!

Reg want her to start playing it again.  Pick a song; any song, and start playing.  Kara tentatively plays a couple of notes, and starts crying. She can’t do it on her own.  Reg says, that’s OK, they’ll play together.

What’s the first thing that Boomer does when she’s free?  She goes to find Athena, who’s in the locker room.  And, the moment of disconnection when Athena realizes who just walked in is all Boomer needs to get the drop and totally kick Athena’s ass straight into a commercial.

After eating some delicious Kentucky Fried Chicken, Boomer is washing her hands – none of that finger-licking stuff for her.  Either that, or she’s washing Athena’s blood from her hands, when who should walk in but Helo.  You see, Athena was getting ready for one of those six-day planet searches, and Helo wants a little nooky before they go. 

Once Boomer realizes that she can totally play the evil twin card, she figures why not? Helo’s a hunk; might as well piss as many people off as is possible by doing him.

Naturally, there are people pissed off at the show for going so obvious with the whole “Evil Twin” scene.  Perhaps, but I think that it actually completes a weird circle:  back on Cylon-occupied Caprica, when Helo and Sharon first did it; he thought that he was banging Boomer, not Athena.  They were friends, and co-pilots, and he’d always been into her and jealous of Chief. 

At the Bar, Tigh, Ellen & Tory are confabbing.  Tigh is still trying to get over his post-mortem viewing of Liam:  “Little guy was looking right at me.”

Boomer likes it rough!  As she and Helo rip each others clothes off, we switch to groggy, Athena-cam.  She’s alive, but ass-kicked and gagged in a bathroom stall with kind of a crappy, fuzzy view of the proceedings.  Nevertheless, she’s able to figure out that her husband is banging her doppelganger, if for no other reason than Boomer’s moaning loud enough to wake the dead.

Speaking of the dead, Kara and Reg are now working out that song that her daddy taught her.  She’s playing some notes, he’s writing it down, and hey! wait a second!  What’s this? His musical notation matches the star drawing that Hera gave her!!

Speaking of Hera, a post-orgasmic Boomer-as-Athena is collecting her at this very moment from the Daycare, and giving her some druggy water.  Offscreen, Hera goes from being creepy to being sleepy.

At the Bar, Tigh, Ellen and Tory perk up like cats at the notes that Kara and Reg are playing.

Hangar Deck.  Chief is helping Boomer aboard. She’s dragging a Hera-sized trunk aboard, but that fact that Hera might be in the trunk doesn’t even cross his mind, so focused he is on letting Boomer escape.

At the Bar, the song that Hera wrote and Kara Thrace and Reg Dwight are playing swells into a full band arrangement of “All Along The Watchtower.”  Awesome!  At the end of the third season, when they first used it, I thought it was a weird, slightly cheap gimmick.  Now that we’re at the third or fourth time they’ve used it, it’s a motif!
Tigh, Ellen and Tory are fully freaking up at the music, and like Pepe LePew, start almost floating to the source of it.   As Kara and Reg finish, she flashes back to when she’d blow on her Daddy’s finger like a smoking pistol when they finished that song; and then he cups her neck in the same way her Daddy did.  In no way, shape or form is this sexual:  this is Daddy and Daughter at its absolute and utter purest, and the adult Kara Thrace looks at Reg with all of the worshipfulness that only a little girl can give her daddy.

Tigh grabs Kara at the shoulder, whirls her around and asks: “Where did you learn to play that song?!?”  But that’s not the important question.  This is the important question:  Where in the hell is Reg?!!!!?”  He’s gone.  All traces of him are gone. It’s exactly as if he wasn’t ever there; as if he was a chip in her head or an angel or something. 

I’m an idiot.  I wasn’t expecting this.  I knew that there was going to be some kind of reveal with Reg, duh, but not the full-blown “only Kara can see him” reveal.  I was too drawn in by the performances.

If Kara notices him missing, she doesn’t acknowledge it.  Instead, she haltingly answers Tigh’s question:  “I played it as a kid.  My father—“  She goes silent.  Tory picks up Hera’s drawering.  “Who did this?”  Kara doesn’t answer.  Because in a weird way, she doesn’t really know.   Perhaps the best thing would be to ask Hera where her ideas come from.

Except, of course, Hera is unconscious and being spirited off of the Galactica.  Well not so much spirited, because they’re taking their sweet time.  In the Raptor, Boomer asks Chief to come with. He can’t.  He won’t.   Fine, then she wants him to know that she meant everything she said, you know, in case, er, uh, anything happens.  And instead of noticing the huge red flag she just waved in front of him, Galen Tyrol WHOOSH! kisses Boomer one more time in the house in Picon.

At the same time, Helo is giving a briefing which is interrupted by a bloody and bruised Athena.  They realize that Boomer must have taken Hera, and as Helo hugs her, she lets out a terrified, primal scream and continuing to wail, beats him ineffectually on the back.  Lord knows what he’s thinking.  If it’s Helo, probably not too much or too hard.

Boomer is waiting for clearance for takeoff.  Keep waiting, Boomer, because they’re on to you!  Naturally, she figures that out, and figures that her best chance is to take off no matter what.  She engages the engines.

In bed, Laura Roslin wakes up with a sudden jolt.  She knows.  She knows. 

Adama points out that he’s  going just shoot Boomer down, but Boomer says, not likely when I’ve got Hera.  Fine, says Adama, and instructs HAL – I mean, Hoshi – to close the pod bay doors.   Boomer spools her FTL.  If she jumps from inside of Galactica, that might just be it for all of them, because of the effect the spatial disruption caused by the jump will be just like a wafer-thin mint on her poor and tattered insides. 
Boomer makes it out of Galactica, but just barely, clipping a door on her way out, igniting her ship, and only feet away from crashing back into Galactica, she jumps.  Bye Boomer, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!  Oh, wait, it did.

But nobody is saying “bye” quite yet, because they’re too busy being shaken around like the USS Enterprise, And oh yeah, there’s a huge-ass hole in Galactica’s hull.

Roslin says “Hera,” and passes out cold, onto the rug.

On the hangar deck, in the midst of all of the chaos, Chief notices that Helo and Athena are giving some poor guy the what for.  He asks a random person what the yelling is all about, and that’s how he finds out just what kind of a dupe Boomer played him for.  Obviously, Chief needs to catch up on his noir films.

Back in the now-empty Daycare, Saul and Ellen are recapping it all for us, in case we haven’t put it all together: Cavil let Ellen escape so that Boomer could bring him Hera.  That she macked with Chief and frakked with Helo?  Bonus! 

Tigh is still confused:  “How can a 3-year-old girl spontaneously write down that song?”  But Ellen knows:  “She’s plugged into something that is manipulating all of us.” That would be, of course, not the One True God, but rather the writers of this episode. 

Ellen finishes with a hopeful “Maybe Anders can help.”  But not so far, as he is still Coma Boy, and not even Kara’s cassette of her dad’s music seems to be helping.  Maybe they should wheel him into the bar and have her play “All Along The Watchtower!”

And finally, poor Chief.  He’s figured out to access the house on Picon his very own self, and frantically looks everywhere for Boomer and their daughter, but the house is empty.  So he sinks to his knees in despair.

So let’s just quickly look at where we are:  Galactica is in tatters; Hera is (presumably) with Cavil;  Sam still in a coma; Life of Baltar has been training with their new guns; Tigh and Adama are despairing drunks; the rebel Cylons are worried more about revenge than finding a home; and Kara still doesn’t know who or what she is. 

Four more episodes left!!

Jim Connelly writes about Pop Culture and Technology at Medialoper

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